Roku Adds Premium Subs to Roku Channel, Updates its App

Following in the footsteps of its rival Amazon, Roku announced that users will be able to buy pay-TV subscriptions through its streaming service, The Roku Channel, beginning in late January. That mimics Amazon’s sale of access to HBO and other premium channels through its Prime Video platform. Roku’s offering will include Showtime, Starz and EPIX among others. The new feature, which replaces one in which Roku acted as a portal to outside services, will also be financially favorable for the company. Continue reading Roku Adds Premium Subs to Roku Channel, Updates its App

Amazon to Expand Whole Foods Stores, Prime Now Delivery

Amazon plans to build more Whole Foods stores across the United States, indicate sources, with the goal of adding more customers within reach of the company’s two-hour delivery service. The move is a transformation for the grocery store, which had slowed its growth in the years before Amazon’s 2017 purchase for about $13.5 billion. Although Amazon wouldn’t comment on expansion plans, sources say that Whole Foods staffers are searching for potential retail space in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming, which currently don’t have Whole Foods stores. Continue reading Amazon to Expand Whole Foods Stores, Prime Now Delivery

Amazon and Alexa Devices Have a Lucrative Holiday Season

This holiday season has shown that U.S. consumer confidence is high despite the volatile stock market. Amazon reported record-breaking revenue and noted that “tens of millions of people worldwide” registered for the company’s Prime service, many enticed by free two-day shipping. During the holiday, Amazon stated, more than one billion items were shipped via Prime. According to Amazon, year over year, that included millions more Alexa-enabled devices like the Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick 4K, and Alexa Voice Remote. Continue reading Amazon and Alexa Devices Have a Lucrative Holiday Season

Samsung Likely to Enable Third-Party Assistants in 2019 TVs

At CES 2019, when Samsung introduces its latest line-up of TVs, it might also unveil plans to integrate Google Assistant into its 2019 TV sets, according to sources. The company is expected to place a bigger emphasis on audio quality, and might also offer features in its TVs that are similar to Apple’s HomePod, which “tunes” music to its environment. Samsung wouldn’t comment on these plans, but did highlight the 2019 models of its Frame and Serif TVs. In 2018, Samsung added Bixby, its own voice assistant, to that year’s TV lineup. Continue reading Samsung Likely to Enable Third-Party Assistants in 2019 TVs

France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

On January 1, 2019, the French government will begin to tax digital companies including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, even as other members of the European Union have balked at imposing an EU-wide tax. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire declared that, as the other EU countries debate, his country will move forward alone, estimating that the total tax bill will come to 500 million Euros ($568 million), which will help defray 10 billion Euros in emergency spending announced by President Emmanuel Macron. Continue reading France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

Amazon Seeking Entrepreneurs to Build Delivery Businesses

Although Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos has touted the possibility of drones delivering packages, he’s now talking up human drivers. This summer, he declared that would-be entrepreneurs could earn $300,000 per year by investing as little as $10,000 up front in creating their own delivery businesses. Following in FedEx’s footsteps, Amazon now wants to build a national network of independent delivery people, offering discounts on vans and insurance and an endless supply of packages to deliver. Continue reading Amazon Seeking Entrepreneurs to Build Delivery Businesses

Google Commits $1 Billion to New York City Expansion Plans

In the wake of tech giants Amazon and Apple detailing their latest expansion plans, Google unveiled specifics regarding its planned facilities in New York City. The company, which currently employs more than 7,000 people in New York, announced it plans to spend $1 billion on its new Google Hudson Square campus, which will provide more than 1.7 million square feet of space in lower Manhattan. “We will have the capacity to more than double the number of Googlers in New York over the next 10 years,” explained Ruth Porat, SVP and CFO of Google and Alphabet.  Continue reading Google Commits $1 Billion to New York City Expansion Plans

Apple Reveals Plans for Texas Campus and Major Expansion

Apple announced yesterday that it plans to spend $1 billion on a new campus in Austin, Texas to accommodate up to 15,000 employees. Over the next three years, the company also plans to add hundreds of workers to its offices in Boulder, Colorado; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and New York, while opening 1,000-worker operations in Culver City, California; Seattle, Washington and San Diego, California. Major tech players such as Apple, Amazon and Google are increasingly moving beyond Silicon Valley as part of strategic expansion plans and the ongoing search for new tech talent. Continue reading Apple Reveals Plans for Texas Campus and Major Expansion

Netflix and Amazon Face Formidable Video Rival in YouTube

Netflix is strategizing ways to court the hundreds of thousands of people in places like India that are glued to watching YouTube on their mobile phones. Only a few months, ago, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings said sleep was Netflix’s biggest competitor. But since his company is also eyeing India for its next 100 million Netflix subscribers, that country’s focus on YouTube is concerning. Netflix and Amazon, both of which have spent billions to produce original content, still find it difficult to crack emerging markets. Continue reading Netflix and Amazon Face Formidable Video Rival in YouTube

Tech Companies Challenge Intel by Building Their Own Chips

Amazon revealed last month that it had spent the previous few years building a chip for use in its worldwide data centers. It’s not alone; Apple and Google also seek to design and manufacture their own chips, as part of a cost-saving strategy. Intel, which thus far hasn’t had much competition, will feel the impact as its own customers undercut the company’s annual $412 billion in sales. Amazon’s massive need for chips means it will likely continue to buy from Intel, with which it will enjoy a better bargaining position. Continue reading Tech Companies Challenge Intel by Building Their Own Chips

Facebook Messenger Tests ‘Watch Videos Together’ Feature

Whether it involves movies, sports events or in-the-moment activities — sharing the experience with friends can make it more enjoyable. This is what Facebook is reportedly testing with its “Watch Videos Together” feature. This feature includes the ability to watch a video within a Messenger group chat while simultaneously commenting, discussing and joking about it. Earlier this year, Facebook launched its Watch Party. Facebook is now potentially expanding its concept of the Watch Party to Messenger, the popular instant messaging app and platform. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Tests ‘Watch Videos Together’ Feature

Amazon’s Prime Video Channels to Double Revenue by 2020

BMO Capital Markets released a report that quantifies the impact of Amazon’s Prime Video Channels service on the pay-TV industry. It revealed that Channels will generate $1.7 billion in revenue in 2018, compared to last year’s $700 million. Further, BMO Capital predicts that revenue will more than double to $3.6 billion in 2020. That’s good news for Channels’ partners, who stand to earn an estimated $1.2 billion this year, and $2.5 billion in 2020, based on Amazon sharing an average 70 percent of subscription fees. Continue reading Amazon’s Prime Video Channels to Double Revenue by 2020

Amazon Music Debuts Voice Feature to Customize Playlists

Amazon Music debuted a voice feature that lets Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music customers on Echo devices and in the Amazon Music iOS and Android apps converse with Alexa to find playlists and music for specific moods. The listener can identify songs by lyrics, among other features, and reject or “like” individual songs. Amazon’s overall aim is to allow each listener to create a more customized listening experience. Amazon is also in trials with a feature that allows Alexa Answers to be shared worldwide. Continue reading Amazon Music Debuts Voice Feature to Customize Playlists

Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

To battle Amazon’s ubiquity and customers’ fickle loyalty, some retailers are testing the new Customer 360 software from Salesforce.com and Freshworks to improve their customer service. The software lets retailers build shopper profiles similar to Facebook to better understand what each customer wants and increase the odds that he or she will become more loyal to the retailer in question. Other strategies retailers are employing are the use of improved chatbots and better customer support training. Continue reading Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

Instagram Star: What It Takes to Build and Maintain a Career

Instagram stars excel at making their beautiful lives seem effortless, but according to one such professional, Meghan Young, it’s harder than it looks. Social media influencers who go pro receive money from companies whose products they endorse. That such a career even exists is due to billions of users eager to consume aspirational content and advertisers eager to reach a young demographic. Marketing agency Mediakix estimates that companies will spend $1.6 billion this year on Instagram influencers alone. Continue reading Instagram Star: What It Takes to Build and Maintain a Career

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